INCEPTION (12A, 148 mins) 8/10
EVERY night, the dream world provides a temporary and blissful escape from reality.
As we slip into an unconscious haze of fractured memories and fantastical imaginings, the brain downloads all of the useless information we’ve absorbed during the day, files anything important and reboots.
Occasionally our dreams can be so vivid and intense, we could swear they were real and it’s this tantalising confusion of fact with fantasy that underpins Christopher Nolan’s hugely ambitious thriller.
Inception heaves at the seams with complex scientific ideas that demand patience from the audience to stay with Nolan as he distils his elaborate vision, one layer at a time.
As Batman Begins and The Dark Knight proved, the writer-director can orchestrate action sequences with aplomb but the vicarious, adrenaline-charged thrills of this film are purely a sideshow unless you understand and accept the script’s meticulous, twisted logic.
As of one the characters says – "Do you want to take a leap of faith or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?"
Those who take that leap with Nolan are in for a mind-bending treat.
In the hi-tech world of corporate espionage, brilliant thief Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team are unparalleled.
They infiltrate the minds of powerful men and women and when the unsuspecting targets enter the fragile dream state, Dom plunders their subconscious of its priceless secrets.
Powerful businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) approaches Cobb with a proposition: to plant a single idea in the mind of rival Robert Fischer Jr (Cillian Murphy) before he inherits the company from his terminally ill father, Maurice (Pete Postlethwaite).
Dom enlists the services of regular right-hand man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), novice dream architect Ariadne (Ellen Page), talented forger Eames (Tom Hardy) and chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), who mixes the powerful sedative that allows them to slip into dreams within dreams within dreams.
However, Dom conceals a terrible secret from the team: the projection of his self-destructive late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), could escape his dreams and sabotage the entire mission.
By the team realises the threat, it’s already too late.
Inception is elegantly realised and editor Lee Smith cuts back and forth between the different dreamscapes with flair, showing how events in one supposed reality have dramatic repercussions in another.
DiCaprio powerfully embodies another tortured soul while Gordon-Levitt has all of the fun in the best action sequence, fighting a gun-toting henchman in a hotel hallway and the interlocking rooms as they rapidly rotate through 360 degrees.
Hans Zimmer’s low, growling score seems to vibrate the entire cinema as the film approaches its frenetic resolution and a final shot that charges Nolan with committing the cardinal sin of storytelling.
Somehow he gets away with it.